As the young Cleveland Cavaliers went competitive and even pushed the much-experienced Utah Jazz team on the brink of defeat on Sunday evening, Darius Garland shined the brightest — carrying his team down the wire and sending a huge warning against the road team.
Yet, the 21-year-old cager felt that it could have been much sweeter if he drained that sixth long bomb attempt to give the Cavs a crucial two-point margin and further ensuring their winning streak alive. It was all “What ifs?” for the side of Garland, but he now makes his head high proudly moving forward in courtesy of his supportive teammates.
“I work on that shot every day. It just didn’t fall tonight,” Garland said. “My teammates told me it looked good. My coaches told me it looked good.”
Head coach J. B. Bickerstaff is a firm believer in Garland’s abilities to take over. In spite of losing by inch, he is certain for the guard to ice the games in convincing fashion especially when hot-handed.
“I’ve got full trust in him and his ability to create good shots,” Bickerstaff said. “So if we had it over again, I’d do the same thing: put the ball in his hands and then make a play.
“He’s carrying us, and he’s accepted that responsibility. But what he’s doing is he’s taking the plays that are there for him.”
Right at the post-game, Jazz point man Mike Conley has his separate praise for the third-year man who dropped 31 markers in 58 percent shooting, acknowledging its toughness and fearlessness in the tight duel.
“[Garland] is tough, man,” said Conley. “Just trying to chase him, put as much pressure on him as possible, just hope he missed it.”
In response to the love he is absorbing, Garland pays back and is appreciative of Conley and Utah’s main man Donovan Mitchell’s word of encouragement.
As Collin Sexton is shelved for the remainder of the 2021-2022 season, it has to be noted that Garland’s tasks now are hefty. Still on the bigger picture, these assignments are only blessings in disguise for his development as a commendable floor general and offensive machine.
As he continues to grow with rising stars Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen, the future of Cleveland basketball is bright. They are set for a takeover in the future, and many do understand that the best is yet to come for the talented squad.